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Distinguished Scholar Lectures

The Distinguished Scholars Lectures were launched as a new program in Spring 2012 with funding from the Stanford Provost.  The program aims to inspire students from diverse cultural backgrounds to consider academia as a career option. This program gives participating departments an opportunity to expose students to diverse faculty by bringing distinguished colleagues to Stanford for short visits, typically two to three days.  The lecture and its associated events are developed and sponsored jointly by participating schools and departments, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity.

Fall 2013 Distinguished Scholar Lecture by Michal Lipson

Michal Lipson is the Given Foundation Professor of Engineering at Cornell University.  Her talk on October 29, 2013 will be titled “Silicon Photonics: The Optical Spice Rack.”  Professor Lipson is a McArthur Fellow, a Fellow of IEEE and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America. She is the recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, IBM Faculty Award and Blavatnik award, NY state academy of science.

Professor Lipson's research involves novel on-chip nanophotonic devices. She is the inventor of more than 15 patents regarding novel micron-size photonic structures for light manipulation. She is the author or coauthor of more than 200 papers in the major research journals in physics and optics.

Silicon is evolving as a versatile photonic platform with multiple functionalities that can be seamlessly integrated. The tool box is rich starting from the ability to guide and amplify multiple wavelength sources at GHz bandwidths, to optomechanical MEMS and opto-fluidics devices. As an example of novel device capabilities, Professor Lipson will discuss the generation of strong optical forces in these ultra small light confining structures. We have recently shown that optical forces can enable controllable, static manipulation of photonic structures, an important step towards enabling recently proposed functionalities for optomechanical devices, such as self-aligning and optical corralling behaviour. These advances should enable future micro-optomechanical systems (MOMS) with novel and distinct functionalities.

Professor Lipson received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in physics in the Technion— Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, in 1998. In December 1998, she joined the Department of Material Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a Postdoctoral Associate.  In 2001, she joined the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University.


Fall 2012 Distinguished Scholar Lecture by Jose Blanchet

Associate Professor of Engineering, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research at Columbia University, Jose Blanchet (PhD class of 2004), gave a talk titled "On Stochastic Insurance and Reinsurance Risk Networks" on November 6- 8, 2012.  The talk was hosted by the Department of Management Science and Engineering and co-sponsored with the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

In the last few years, substantial interest has been given to the study of systemic risk. In this talk Professor Blanchet described a class of models for systemic risk analysis in the setting of insurance and reinsurance participants. The models are constructed with the aim of capturing features such as cascading effects at the time of default due to counter-party risk and contagion. We also impose a probabilistic structure that allows us to rigorously study risk analysis questions using the theory of combinatorial optimization. In the end, we are interested in answering questions such as:   a) What group of companies are the most relevant from a systemic risk standpoint?  b) How do we quantify the role of reinsurance companies in systemic risk?  c) How do we to understand and quantify the role of a regulator and associated capital requirements for systemic risk mitigation?

Professor Blanchet is a recipient of the 2009 Best Publication Award given by the INFORMS Applied Probability Society, the 2010 Erlang Prize, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2010.

Professor Blanchet began his career as Assistant Professor of Statistics at Harvard and joined the faculty at Columbia in 2008. His interests include applied probability, computational finance, MCMC, queuing theory, rare-event analysis, simulation methodology, and risk theory.  A lunch meeting with Stanford graduate students was organized by the Vice Provost of Graduate Education during Professor Blanchet's visit.

Inaugural Distinguished Scholar Lecture  by Joseph TeranAssociate Professor Joseph Teran (PhD 2005)

The Department of Computer Science hosted the inaugural Lecture in the 2012 series on May 31, 2012. It featured Associate Professor Joseph Teran (PhD Class of 2005), UCLA Department of Mathematics. 

Joseph M. Teran's research is focused on numerical methods for partial differential equations arising in classical physics. This includes computational solids, computational fluids, multi-material interactions, fracture dynamics and computational biomechanics. One very exciting example of this research is virtual surgery. These techniques allow a surgeon to practice a given procedure on the computer rather than on a cadaver or patient with full confidence that the physical behavior of the patient in the virtual world will match the physics of the real patient. Other exciting applications include computer graphics and movie special effects at Walt Disney Animation.

Professor Teran was a recipient of a 2011 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and a 2010 Young Investigator award from the Office of Naval Research. In 2008, Discover Magazine named him one of the 50 “Best Brains in Science” which lauded him and other young scientists as “young visionaries who are transforming the way we understand the world.” Also, his postdoctoral and graduate research was supported by National Science Foundation Mathematical SciencesPostdoctoral Research and Graduate Research Fellowship awards, respectively.

Professor Teran is a second-generation Mexican-American with familial ties in Baja California and Jalisco. His grandparents immigrated to Sonoma County in the North Bay and he grew up in Santa Rosa, California. His undergraduate studies were done at the University of California, Davis. He completed his PhD in scientific computing under the supervision of Ronald Fedkiw at Stanford University. His postdoctoral research was done under the supervision of Michael Shelley and Charles Peskin at the Courant Institute at New York University and Court Cutting of the NYU School of Medicine.